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The "N" Word and Classic Literature

 
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 06:44 pm
@Ragman,
Ragman wrote:

"Frankly Charlotte, I don't give a darn!"

Ragman!! I'm shocked that you use such foul language! Shocked

For shame!! Wink
Ragman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 07:13 pm
@tsarstepan,
I'm too chicken to use fowl language.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 07:13 pm
@tsarstepan,
I'm ok with the change as long as the original work is available to any adult who wants to acquire it. I see the change as being a "Childrens Version" of the book and I'm ok with that. I'm sure there are Children's versions of The Bible, and other large texts. Nobody seems to object to those.
Ragman
 
  3  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 07:16 pm
@djjd62,
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practive to pun and leave.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  6  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 07:31 pm
@tsarstepan,
My kid (age 10) read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn a couple of months ago, LOVED both of them. We had a bit of a conversation about the n-word, which she was already familiar with and already knew the history of, but we talked about it a bit more. The discussion was instructive, and I really dislike messing with an author's work in that way. Twain used the word for a reason.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 08:09 pm
@rosborne979,
Rosborne that seems to be a fair compromise. The edited version seems to be a singular edition from a singular publisher. It doesn't say that the rest of the future Twain novel reissues will retain the same n word editing.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 08:15 pm
@sozobe,
This discussion of these types of difficult social and cultural concepts and notions from these books as well as controversial films and television shows with ones children is a good socializing and teaching tool. Helps the child learn to communicate about these taboo hypocrisies so obvious in the real world that one can't help but see them.
realjohnboy
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 08:34 pm
@tsarstepan,
It seems to me that the discussion is not about "permanently' eliminating the words "nigger" or "Injun" from Huck Finn, but rather about when it might be appropriate to introduce the book to young readers, without the editing.
Soz said, I believe, something about 10 or 11. I would add, with the proviso as she did, a conversation about the baggage that those words carry.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 08:53 pm
I'm not certain when I tried to read Huck for the first time. I had difficulties dealing with Twain's dialect. A few years ago, my daughter gave me the novel Finn, a retelling of the event of Twain's novel from the point of view of Huck's abusive father. That allowed me to enter into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

My point is that Twain's Huck is difficult to read. It is not Little Women.

recently, at work, I have been subjected to the many songs of Carly Simon. One of them is a seeming cynical view of marriage. I think the song is disingenuous. I think that some of the critics of marriage (was Simon critical or just writing a song that would be catchy?) are actually people who put marriage on such a pedestal that they are bound to fail in any twosome they enter.

In other words, they follow the old theory of the authoritarian personality. Criticize the authorities until they slap you down, then praise it for being strong.

However, in this case, something akin but nearly opposite is at work: ban the word nigger because you are afraid you might use it.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 09:03 pm
Banning that word from a book has no bearing on the language I use. Probably that is so for most of us. I have read many books that use the word. I still find it too odius to repeat.

Different people would like the word expunged for different reasons. Now they will have a choice.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 09:41 pm
http://www.tolerance.org/activity/teaching-huck-finn-without-regret
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  6  
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 10:47 pm
This just tweeted 4 minutes ago:
Quote:
StephenAtHome Stephen Colbert
It's great that they took the N-word out of "Huckleberry Finn." Now get to work on "Moby D-Word."
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 10:29 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Wed also need to revise
HARPER LEE
GILBERT AND SULLIVAN
LANGSTON HUGHES
JOSEPH CONRAD
P. WODEHOUSE
GRAHAM GREENE
RUDYARD KIPLING

The references made by W.S. Gilbert in The Mikado to "nigger serenaders" and being "blacked like a nigger" have been expurgated for over half a century now. You won't find any performance today that uses the original lyrics.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 10:38 am
@tsarstepan,
Censorship is ugly.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 12:37 pm
@joefromchicago,
Except in the librettos. The Savoy Co, has explained the modifcation of the original but theyve left it in their librettos. (At lkeast the last time we went to catch a G&S play) Anyway, the original topic of Huck Finn has to recall that this book was clearly written as anti-racist as it could be back then. It still stands up as such , removing the specific language(which was a selected tool in Twains mind) would make it a bit confusing in its mission.
IRFRANK
 
  4  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 12:54 pm
I think it's wrong and to change it only reinforces the racism the book is trying to fight.

Don't forget the reason for the supposed change: It's because schools won't let the original in the library because of the language. That is the real problem. Let's ignore our racist past, that way we won't have to explain it to young children.

"Huck Finn teaches us this: That which we're certain we know of others is, more often than not, as suspect as that which we're certain we know of ourselves."


excellent link - plainoldme

plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 01:03 pm
@IRFRANK,
Thank you.

I just read a piece by novelist Gloria Naylor recounting the first time she heard the n-word.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 01:10 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Except in the librettos. The Savoy Co, has explained the modifcation of the original but theyve left it in their librettos. (At lkeast the last time we went to catch a G&S play)

Most people see The Mikado in performance rather than read it in print. On the stage, the lines are altered and have been, I think, since the 1930s. Similarly, the opening chorus of Show Boat, as originally written, goes:

Quote:
Niggers all work on the Mississippi.
Niggers all work while the white folks play...


In performance, this is usually changed to:

Quote:
Colored folks work on the Mississippi.
Colored folks work while the white folks play...


The original lyrics still exist in print, but rarely in performance.

farmerman wrote:
Anyway, the original topic of Huck Finn has to recall that this book was clearly written as anti-racist as it could be back then. It still stands up as such , removing the specific language(which was a selected tool in Twains mind) would make it a bit confusing in its mission.

As I understand it, the proposed new edition is designed for use in schools by children who otherwise would not have a chance to read Huckleberry Finn at all. Given the option of having children read a judiciously expurgated version of the book or not read it at all, I lean toward the former. The original, of course, will remain for those who prefer it.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 01:40 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Given the option of having children read a judiciously expurgated version of the book or not read it at all, I lean toward the former. The original, of course, will remain for those who prefer it.
Is it only one word that is being excised? I guess I havent been following the basis by whiuch school libraries have not been stocking this book. Does that mean that om other works are also being PCd out of shelf space?

Mores the pity.

I suppose , reluctantly then, if the book were not being shelved at all because the PC police were in high ops, then Id allow the book to be stocked and used with the revised wording.
When are kids exposed to Huck Finn, ? in elementary school I recall reading it and Sister (4th or 5th grade whatsername) admonished us as to the language and the real intent that Mr Clemens had in telling the story. "God first made idsiots, That was just for practice. Then he made school boards". S. L. C.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 01:52 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Is it only one word that is being excised?

"Nigger" is changed to "slave." "Injun" is changed to "Indian." "Half-breed" is changed to "half-blood." Those are, I think, the only changes.

farmerman wrote:
I guess I havent been following the basis by whiuch school libraries have not been stocking this book. Does that mean that om other works are also being PCd out of shelf space?

No question about that. Schools are constantly banning books for objectionable content.
0 Replies
 
 

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